Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of Them All?

Culture doesn’t save anything or anyone, it doesn’t justify. But it’s a product of man: he projects himself into it. He recognizes himself in it; that critical mirror alone offers him his image.

Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980), Les Mots (1964)

January 7, 2012 –The question in the blog’s title is an easy question to ask and a hard question to answer.

After all, the Occupy Wall Street crowd is crying the top 1% are taking the bottom 99% for a ride; most of the top politicians – Senators, Congresspersons, the President himself -are millionaires; the top K Street lobbyists have joined the millionaire's club; American CEOs average more than $10 million in income and benefits; the top college presidents and top college coaches are making more than $1 million each, as are the top hospital administrators and top medical specialists; talking heads on the left and right are pulling down 6 figure incomes; movie stars, sports stars, and celebrities are making out like billionaire bandits; Mitt Romney is outspending his impecunious rivals; even the President makes $8 million and has $1 billion in his campaign war chest, which he is gleefully using to lambast the Rich.

Life Isn't Fair

Life isn’t fair. One fifth of America’s children live in poverty, 15 million of us are unemployed, and money has become the mother’s milk of politics - and everything else - in American life.

What We Can Do

How can we correct this deplorable, dreadful, despicable , delusional situation?

We can attack the Have’s as exploiting the Have-Not’s. We can say Capitalism is a terrible thing. We can become Populists. We can proclaim our political opponents as the unscrupulous Party of the Rich. The Rich can give away their Gains, as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates propose to do.

We can embrace that oft-repeated cliché, and create a compassionate government that commits itself to “leveling the playing field,” wherever and whatever that field happens to be and however tilted it happens to be, as long as it is tilted in our direction.

We can become priests, clergy persons, low-paid healing and helping professionals, unpaid volunteers, or members of the military or Peace Corps.

Or, I suppose, we can be honest. We can admit money is how humankind keeps score. Money is how we reward those with talent, intelligence, skills, years devoted to educating and bettering themselves, entrepreneurial savvy, and other abilities, allowing some to rise, and others to fall.

We call this a Meritocracy. We call this a Democracy. We call this America. We allow people to pursue their dreams, to rise and fall, to rise and risk again, while protecting those who fall.

We can acknowledge, to use George Orwell’s famous phrase, that “some are more equal than others.” We Americans are human beings with skills, faults, and differences. Viva la differences!

Tweet: American capitalism allows human differences to exist. We permit people to chase their dreams, to rise and fail, to rise and risk again.

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